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My Apistogramma borellii

Ben Rhau

Apisto Club
Messages
589
Location
San Francisco
Dear god, I didn't think it was this involved of a process with a digital PH-meter ! I honestly thought it would be quicker than test kits, like the EC-meter, wich apparently doesn't need recalibrating (but maybe I'm wrong about that, too).
Thing is; I'll need to check the PH (or KH/GH) at some point to make sure my aquasoil is still doing it's job... Guess I'll just have to bite the bullet, then.
EC meters do benefit from calibration, but I do this far less often (maybe once very 6 months). It's more important if you're shooting for VERY low EC (below 20) to ensure those small numbers are accurate. They also do take some time to stabilize readings, but not as slow as pH meters. FYI, electroconductivity is affected by glass, so I don't recommend dipping the meter directly in the tank. I've found that I can get different readings at different locations in the tank. Better to take a water sample from your tank and measure the EC in a plastic beaker.

Borellii don't live in particularly acidic water, nor do they live in an extremely low TDS regime. Since you don't need to measure pH below 6, by far the easier way to measure pH is a simple drip test from API or similar. That takes 30 seconds. Quite a bit longer to use a pH meter.

Aquasoil can be used to buffer your water, but:
  1. The buffering effect will exhaust over time, so you'd need to replace it at some point.
  2. Your water doesn't need additional buffer.
  3. I believe it's stated above that the apistos need fine sand to chew and clean their gills. They are little earth eaters.
For those reasons, I recommend fine, inert sand. If the reason for aquasoil is plants: I've seen no compelling evidence that plants need the nutrients to be in the substrate as opposed to the water column. The two are not isolated from one another; If you dose the water column with nutrients, the roots will see it.

Cheers
 

Yoannikko

New Member
Messages
24
Location
France
EC meters do benefit from calibration, but I do this far less often (maybe once very 6 months). It's more important if you're shooting for VERY low EC (below 20) to ensure those small numbers are accurate. They also do take some time to stabilize readings, but not as slow as pH meters. FYI, electroconductivity is affected by glass, so I don't recommend dipping the meter directly in the tank. I've found that I can get different readings at different locations in the tank. Better to take a water sample from your tank and measure the EC in a plastic beaker.
I did not knows that glass had any effect on te results, thanks for the info ! Next time, I'll test in a plastic container, then
Borellii don't live in particularly acidic water, nor do they live in an extremely low TDS regime. Since you don't need to measure pH below 6, by far the easier way to measure pH is a simple drip test from API or similar. That takes 30 seconds. Quite a bit longer to use a pH meter.
From What I read, borellii are found in waters ranging from 5 to 8 in Ph. So I was thinking that 6.5 would be a good middle ground. But maybe I'm wrong ?
That and the fact that they've been in the tank for about 2 months now, with no signs of negative effects on them. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right ?

Well I have a test kit from JBL. Still need to get a more precise Ph test, as the only one available at the store last time was the 3-10...
But others have said that with low enough Kh and Gh, Ph tests weren't really accurate ?

Aquasoil can be used to buffer your water, but:
  1. The buffering effect will exhaust over time, so you'd need to replace it at some point.
  2. Your water doesn't need additional buffer.
  3. I believe it's stated above that the apistos need fine sand to chew and clean their gills. They are little earth eaters.
For those reasons, I recommend fine, inert sand. If the reason for aquasoil is plants: I've seen no compelling evidence that plants need the nutrients to be in the substrate as opposed to the water column. The two are not isolated from one another; If you dose the water column with nutrients, the roots will see it.

Cheers
Yeah, I knows about the bufferinc effect not being eternal. The solution I found was to either replace the soil in the tank every few years, or just put a bag of new soil in the filter.

Not sure what you mean in your second point ? I'm already using aquasoil, so it wouldn't be any different in the new scape ?

For point three. I've ordered fine Sand for the top layer. The aquasoil will be in mesh bags under the sand, in the planted area.

Thanks for all your input !
 

Ben Rhau

Apisto Club
Messages
589
Location
San Francisco
From What I read, borellii are found in waters ranging from 5 to 8 in Ph. So I was thinking that 6.5 would be a good middle ground. But maybe I'm wrong ?
That and the fact that they've been in the tank for about 2 months now, with no signs of negative effects on them. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right ?

Well I have a test kit from JBL. Still need to get a more precise Ph test, as the only one available at the store last time was the 3-10...
But others have said that with low enough Kh and Gh, Ph tests weren't really accurate ?
You don't need to choose a pH for your fish. Just accept the pH that occurs with minimal intervention from you, and it will be within the range of your test kit.

You don't need a precise test. The only time you need to measure pH at all is when adding fish where the bag water and the tank water are very different. Then it's useful to measure, but precision isn't needed. The conductivity is much more important to measure in this case, but it is good to measure both conductivity and pH.

pH tests aren't as accurate if the water is far below 100 TDS, but that's not necessary for borellii, which do not live in blackwater. For A. borellii and C. pygmaeus, my advice would be to shoot for anything between 50 and 200 TDS, and GH between 3 and 7. These are just rough numbers. The Corydoras will certainly appreciate soft water. The borelli can tolerate a very wide range.

If you use RO and remineralize to anywhere in the above range, it's highly unlikely that you can get an extreme pH unless there's a huge pollution problem in your tank. Just avoid abrupt changes to your water chemistry, and wherever you land will be fine.

All of this is to say you don't need a pH meter. :)

Not sure what you mean in your second point ? I'm already using aquasoil, so it wouldn't be any different in the new scape ?
I'm saying that the buffering properties of Aquasoil are irrelevant to your fish. The fact that it can buffer the pH does not give it an advantage over an inert substrate.

Cheers
 

Yoannikko

New Member
Messages
24
Location
France
You don't need to choose a pH for your fish. Just accept the pH that occurs with minimal intervention from you, and it will be within the range of your test kit.
Oh yeah, don't worry I'm not aiming for 6.500000 Ph, I just meant that the aquasoil I use should buffer the Ph to around 6.5.

You don't need a precise test. The only time you need to measure pH at all is when adding fish where the bag water and the tank water are very different. Then it's useful to measure, but precision isn't needed. The conductivity is much more important to measure in this case, but it is good to measure both conductivity and pH.
Ah ok, got it. Even so, I usually have a nice acclimation period for any new fish I add. I let the bag sit in the tank for a while untill temps match. Then I do 1 to 2 hours of parameters acclimation, where I pour some water from the tank into the bag every 10-15 minutes. Only then do I introduce the new fish, and only the fish. The water from the place I got them gets thrown away, of course.

pH tests aren't as accurate if the water is far below 100 TDS, but that's not necessary for borellii, which do not live in blackwater. For A. borellii and C. pygmaeus, my advice would be to shoot for anything between 50 and 200 TDS, and GH between 3 and 7. These are just rough numbers. The Corydoras will certainly appreciate soft water. The borelli can tolerate a very wide range.

If you use RO and remineralize to anywhere in the above range, it's highly unlikely that you can get an extreme pH unless there's a huge pollution problem in your tank. Just avoid abrupt changes to your water chemistry, and wherever you land will be fine.

All of this is to say you don't need a pH meter. :)
Other members earlier in this thread have suggested not remineralizing the water at all. So what should I do ? 100% pure RO, or remineralized RO ?
Either, doesn't matter to me, I just want to have a clear picture ^^

For changes in chemistry, no worries, slow changes (if needed) are what I had planned to do.
Ok for the Ph-meter. I will probably get one at some point, just for peace of mind, but it won't be on my list of priorities right now.

I'm saying that the buffering properties of Aquasoil are irrelevant to your fish. The fact that it can buffer the pH does not give it an advantage over an inert substrate.

Cheers
I see what you mean. For me, using aquasoil is just an easier way to get the parameters I want, without having to deal with letting tap water sit so the chlorine evaporates, and not having to mix it with x% of RO water. Just remineralize the RO as needed and go.
Of course, I wouldn't do this if I were to, say, setup a lake Malawi or Tanganyka tank !
 

Ben Rhau

Apisto Club
Messages
589
Location
San Francisco
Oh yeah, don't worry I'm not aiming for 6.500000 Ph, I just meant that the aquasoil I use should buffer the Ph to around 6.5.
I'm saying anything between 5 and 8 is fine. Even a little outside that range is probably fine. So if you need to do anything in particular to get it to 6.5, it's probably not worth it, in my opinion.

Ah ok, got it. Even so, I usually have a nice acclimation period for any new fish I add. I let the bag sit in the tank for a while untill temps match. Then I do 1 to 2 hours of parameters acclimation, where I pour some water from the tank into the bag every 10-15 minutes. Only then do I introduce the new fish, and only the fish. The water from the place I got them gets thrown away, of course.
I think that's fine. I typically do a drip acclimation. But the conductivity measurement is important so that you know whether you are reasonably close before adding the fish. If the EC is very different, particularly if the tank water is much lower, the fish will experience osmotic shock.

Other members earlier in this thread have suggested not remineralizing the water at all. So what should I do ? 100% pure RO, or remineralized RO ?
Either, doesn't matter to me, I just want to have a clear picture ^^

I just reread Mac's post above. Pure RO is probably fine. My reasoning is that, even though borellii tolerate a wide range of conductivity, it's probably less energetically expensive for them not to be at an extreme end of the range. So I would personally add a small amount of remineralizer, enough so that the tank was at around TDS 50. But you might be fine lower than that.


I see what you mean. For me, using aquasoil is just an easier way to get the parameters I want, without having to deal with letting tap water sit so the chlorine evaporates, and not having to mix it with x% of RO water. Just remineralize the RO as needed and go.
Got it. I'm not sure why you need to let tap water sit, as opposed to adding dechlorinator. Or why Aquasoil is easier than remineralizing or using pure RO. But either way, I'm sure it will work out. Just trying to help simplify.

Cheers
 

Yoannikko

New Member
Messages
24
Location
France
I'm saying anything between 5 and 8 is fine. Even a little outside that range is probably fine. So if you need to do anything in particular to get it to 6.5, it's probably not worth it, in my opinion.

I just reread Mac's post above. Pure RO is probably fine. My reasoning is that, even though borellii tolerate a wide range of conductivity, it's probably less energetically expensive for them not to be at an extreme end of the range. So I would personally add a small amount of remineralizer, enough so that the tank was at around TDS 50. But you might be fine lower than that.

Got it. I'm not sure why you need to let tap water sit, as opposed to adding dechlorinator. Or why Aquasoil is easier than remineralizing or using pure RO. But either way, I'm sure it will work out. Just trying to help simplify.

Cheers
No wrries. I'll lower the GH gradually anyway, so I can stay at around 3 to 4 and see how they react. If I need to, I'll still be able to go lower. If not, I'll stay at that level.

As far as Ph and aquasoil are concerned, I just see the latter as a way to make sure the former stays constant. Plus, the Kh is also dealt with, which just leaves the Gh to worry about. I just add a little Gh+ to get the level I want and that's it. To me this is the "simplified" version, but hey whatever works ! And I do not mind suggestions, it's always good to see how others do things and to compare notes.
Finally, as far as letting tap water sit, vs adding dechlorinator, I just personnally prefer to let chlorine evaporate naturally than add a chemical in the water to get rid of it.

I think that's fine. I typically do a drip acclimation. But the conductivity measurement is important so that you know whether you are reasonably close before adding the fish. If the EC is very different, particularly if the tank water is much lower, the fish will experience osmotic shock.
It's true that I've never tested the EC of the water the fish came in before doing acclimation. I just assumed that after x amount of time and mixing that water with mine untill I reach 2 to 3 times the initial volume of water was fine.
But I'll start doing more tests in the future, and maybe adjust my method of acclimation accordingly.
As far as the drip method is concerned, I tried it a few times, especially with shrimp. But I'm always concerned about the temperature dropping while acclimating. Which is why I tend to leave the bags in the tank to maintain temps, and just add a few scoops to half a glass of water every 10-15 minutes.
 

Ben Rhau

Apisto Club
Messages
589
Location
San Francisco
It's true that I've never tested the EC of the water the fish came in before doing acclimation. I just assumed that after x amount of time and mixing that water with mine untill I reach 2 to 3 times the initial volume of water was fine.
But I'll start doing more tests in the future, and maybe adjust my method of acclimation accordingly.
As far as the drip method is concerned, I tried it a few times, especially with shrimp. But I'm always concerned about the temperature dropping while acclimating. Which is why I tend to leave the bags in the tank to maintain temps, and just add a few scoops to half a glass of water every 10-15 minutes.
I usually buy fish online, and often the shipping medium has high conductivity due to additives (anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-parasite, etc). I also find that a lot of vendors maintain fish in hard water in order to make them easier to adapt for owners who don't use RO. In the most extreme case, I received fish in TDS > 1000 and acclimated to a blackwater tank (EC 7). For that, I definitely used drip acclimation. However, if the bag water is fairly close to my tank water, I use the same method as you.

Regarding temperature: Usually the fish are not shipped heated, so if the bag is already at room temperature, it's not a huge difference to let it go another couple hours at that temp. Once the water is equalized, I float the bag to match the temperature.

In the case where there is a very long acclimation, I have on rare occasions put the acclimation container in a heated water bath. I'm not sure if it was necessary, but it gave me peace of mind that temperature would not be an issue.

Cheers
 

Yoannikko

New Member
Messages
24
Location
France
Good to know about buying fish online ! I've never done it, so didn't know they've put any additives in the water. Will have to keep it in mind if I ever decide to do this.
And if I ever do, I will most likely use your method, then
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,198
Location
Germany
I've never done it, so didn't know they've put any additives in the water.
And I can immediately tell you, you won't see that in retail in the EU. Only during imports and sometimes in wholesale. Fish in retail come without any meds.
 

Yoannikko

New Member
Messages
24
Location
France
Yeah, sorry I hadn't displayed my location under my profite pic, yet... And it's always interesting to know how things are done in other places around the world.

But I guess I won't have to deal with this sort of thing, then. I'll try to get in the habit of checking EC anyway, just as a good practice.
 

Yoannikko

New Member
Messages
24
Location
France
Hello everyone,

So I received my package from Wio yesterday, and had a little play with the rocks I received today.
Here's what the initial "rockscape" would look like :
1704972729075.jpg

1704972729071.jpg

_storage_emulated_0_Android_data_com.miui.gallery_cache_SecurityShare_1704972729068.jpg


There would be fine sand + botanicals in the front, with little tufts of grass-like plants between the rocks. And either just aquasoil or aquasoil in mesh bags + sand on top at the rear. Plants would obviously go at the rear.

What do you guys think ? Keep in mind that I will also add the branches present in my tank already, but I can't take them out to see how they would fit untill I rescape the tank, which will happen probably early february. There is an expo near me on the 4th and I want to wait to see if I find any interesting pieces of hardscape that would be a better fit.
 

Yoannikko

New Member
Messages
24
Location
France
Hello everyone,

So the Apisto project is evolving slightly. I was planning on getting a bigger tank (150-200 L) soonish to house my pygmy corys (+ other cat fish), but some unforeseen events are currently taking up the budget I had assigned for this.
However, I would still really like to house my Apisto and Corys in species-specific tanks. So I was thinking of keeping my Corys in my 54L (60x30) for the time being (and rescaping it in the next few months).
As for the Apistos, I have a Fluval Flex 15 lying around that I was thinking of using to house my pair. The dimensions are 41*39*39, and I have removed the internal "sump" portion, so I can use the full dimensions for the fish. I will just have to check that there are no leaks first, of course. But do you think this tank could work for a solo pair of A. borellii ?
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,198
Location
Germany
Hmmm... as you might have learned by now, the volume is not the important thing, but the dimensions.
And although I think the Corydoras deserve just as much room, I'd put them in the cube and the Apistogramma in the 60cm tank.
 

Apistoguy52

Active Member
Messages
314
Hello everyone,

So the Apisto project is evolving slightly. I was planning on getting a bigger tank (150-200 L) soonish to house my pygmy corys (+ other cat fish), but some unforeseen events are currently taking up the budget I had assigned for this.
However, I would still really like to house my Apisto and Corys in species-specific tanks. So I was thinking of keeping my Corys in my 54L (60x30) for the time being (and rescaping it in the next few months).
As for the Apistos, I have a Fluval Flex 15 lying around that I was thinking of using to house my pair. The dimensions are 41*39*39, and I have removed the internal "sump" portion, so I can use the full dimensions for the fish. I will just have to check that there are no leaks first, of course. But do you think this tank could work for a solo pair of A. borellii ?
The “right” answer probably says that’s too small. The “real” answer IMO is that it probably works just fine. borellii are pretty friendly.
 

Yoannikko

New Member
Messages
24
Location
France
Thanks for your replies. Yeah, my thinking was that the Corys would like the the length of my 54L more, and the Apistos seem pretty friendly with each other. I mean, they chase each other around at times, but nothing too serious / agressive.
But in the long term, it would make more sense to leave the Apistos in the 54L as that is where they would end up eventually anyway.

I'll try to get the Fluval setup this weekend. I'll have at least a month to think this over, as the tank cycles. Thinking about trying out a dark start also for this tank, so it'll probably about 5-6 weeks untill I introduce the fish anyway.
 

Yoannikko

New Member
Messages
24
Location
France
Hello everyone,

Just wanted to give you guys an update on how the project is advancing.
For the current tank, I've done a (little) bit of gardening, as I had hair algae on some of my Valisneria. So tried to take out just the strands that were affected, but as all of the plants were so intertwined, I ended up uprooting all of the Val in one go ^^' Oh well, as least the tank is a bit more bright now.
I also took out a lot of the java fern (where my female Apisot had made her home), as it had dead and brown leaves. Now my pair have chosen to take up residence front and center, in a cavity in the branch that goes from the right-rear to the middle-front of the tank. I'm pretty happy because this is where I wanted them to go in the first place.
1708000162483.jpg

1708279281380.jpg

1708279281385.jpg


I also got started on the tank that will hold my Pygmy Corys. For hardscape, a few rocks and a nice root were used. And I ended up going with a nice layer of fine sand and that's it. I didn't have enough RO water to fill up the tank to the brim, but I quite like the look of it as it sits right now. Thinking of leaving the water at this level, and adding a few plants on top of the root + a some floaters. And leaf litter, obviously (how much do you guys recommend ? 20% same as for my Apistos, or more ?). Just turned the light on for the photo, but I will be doing a "Dark Start" for this tank.
Note, the rock on top of the root is just their temporarily to hold it down.
1708279281374.jpg


I still have a question about the water parameters, though. I will end up using 100% RO water, or maybe RO remineralized to 1-2 dGh. But the Kh should be 0. And this is where I have some lingering questions. Everyone says that water with 0 Kh, or very low Kh, will have big fluctuations in Ph, which is not good for the fish. And I know you've told me that fluctuations in naturally soft water is normal, but how big are those fluctuations in the wild ? And will captive-bred fish still possess the same resistance to thes variations as their wild counterparts ?
Sorry if these questions seem "basic", but this will be my first true soft water aquarium, and I really don't want my fish to suffer because I have done something wrong or misunderstood something !
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,198
Location
Germany
Everyone says that water with 0 Kh, or very low Kh, will have big fluctuations in Ph, which is not good for the fish.
What big fluctuations? There is nothing that will add H+Ions in high amounts or which will lower them quickly. The pH will at most fluctuate by 1 point over the course of a day. And that's not much. Period over Amplitude. High amplitude over a long period is fine, over a short timeframe it is a problem. Not gonna happen
 

Yoannikko

New Member
Messages
24
Location
France
Hello,
I should have said "a lot of people" and not "everyone", but this is what I commonly read or have been asked on different forums when discussing this project. Maybe it's because having a true soft water aquarium is not a widespred practice. When researching, I haven't been able to find that much info on the subject. But maybe my method of research wasn't the right one (which, to be honest, is quite likely ^^')

So, if I get this right, Ph fluctuations would result from fluctuations in CO2/O2 levels in the tank, only ? which wouldn't be much in this type of tank because of a fairly stable CO2 supply (produced from fish and decaying leaves) and constant CO2 "consumption" (released in the atmosphere through water circulation) without a lot of plants.
So do these types of aquariums do best with little or no aquatic plants, then ? Floaters and immersed plants should be ok because they get their CO2 from the atmosphere.

Again, sorry for all these "simple" questions, but I'm new to this and never did all that well in science class (even though I find the subject interesting)...
 

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